Populist Candidate Leads In Poll As Sarkozy Crashes Out Of French Presidential Race

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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National Front leader Marine Le Pen holds a commanding lead in a French presidential poll as the establishment fears President-elect Donald Trump’s victory has turned her into a serious contender.

A new poll released before the center-right Republican Party’s primary election Sunday put Le Pen at 29 percent — eight points ahead of the closest contender. Le Pen is expected to have a hard time reaching a majority in the runoff vote, but the establishment fears she could now pull it off.

“What has changed in the world and Europe since Nov. 8 is that it’s possible,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Thursday, commenting on how Trump’s victory affected Le Pen’s chances. “We face a historic moment … perilous for the world, perilous for Europe and perilous for France.”

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy was knocked out of the Republican contest after finishing third in the primary. A runoff election between Francois Fillon and Alain Juppe Nov. 27 will decide who will become the favorite for the presidency.

Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, said he felt “no bitterness, no sadness” after his comeback ended after just three months.

“I failed to convince a majority of voters,” Sarkozy said, according to Reuters. “I hold Alain Juppe in high esteem, but I feel closer to Francois Fillon’s political choices.”

The first round of the presidential election will take place April 23.

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